1600: Firebird Finale: Season final race preview

Festival flavor for Fran-Am finale in Phoenix. 11/22/2002 - Phoenix, Arizona -- There's excitement and anticipation in the air as Fran-Am drivers and teams prepare for their final race weekend at the conclusion of a highly successful inaugural...

Festival flavor for Fran-Am finale in Phoenix.

11/22/2002 - Phoenix, Arizona -- There's excitement and anticipation in the air as Fran-Am drivers and teams prepare for their final race weekend at the conclusion of a highly successful inaugural year. Both the Fran-Am 2000 Pro Championship series and the Fran-Am 1600 West Coast Championship series will conclude their first year and crown their series champion with a doubleheader event at Phoenix Firebird Raceway this weekend.

"Close and exciting racing have been the trademarks of both our Fran-Am 1600 and Fran-Am 2000 series this year," said Arden Weatherford, Director of Operations for Fran-Am Sport. "and we expect nothing less from our competitors this weekend."

While the championship points races are still not decided, both points leaders hold a significant lead over their nearest competitor. In the Fran-Am 2000 series, Bruno Spengler of St. Hippolyte, Quebec, leads teammate Scott Jenkins of Portland, Oregon by 42 points. While Tim Barber of San Francisco, California holds 32-point lead in the Fran-Am 1600 series over John Knudsen of Ontario, California.

No matter how great the lead, however, drivers in both series know the stakes and are certainly not giving up the chase yet. Fran-Am's end-of-season prizes are incentive enough to keep all drivers nipping at the heels of Spengler and Barber.

"The prize in the Fran-Am 2000 series is a fantastic one," said Gormley, Ontario's Dan McMullen, who currently sits in 3rd overall. "I want to win that paid ride in the European Super Renault V6 series. All you have to do is see those cars to know you need to drive one. Bruno (Spengler) is going to have plenty of pressure this weekend from me and others to win that prize!"

After running a doubleheader weekend with the Fran-Am 2000 series a month ago in Las Vegas, competitors in the Fran-Am 1600 series had a chance to see the 2-liter cars up close for the first time. That up-close look at the senior series was enough to whet the appetite of many 1600 drivers and make them work even harder to win the end-of-season prize of a brand-new Fran-Am 2000 car ready to race next season.

"Our drivers know the stakes this weekend," said Fran-Am 1600 Race Director Steve Henry. "They will all be chasing Barber to win the overall championship. They want to get into that 2-liter car!"

In addition to the final two races of the season for both series, Fran-Am Sport will hold their End-of-Season Awards Banquet on Sunday, November 24. All competitors are looking forward to the banquet at the beautiful Pointe South Mountain Resort where the prizes will be awarded and the champions crowned.

Fran-Am Sport will also be holding their "Shootout in the Desert" this weekend to determine the winner of Fran-Am Sport's North American Karter Award. 12 karters between the ages of 15-22 from the US and Canada will compete in identically prepared karts in a shootout on Saturday, November 23. The overall winner of the "Shootout" will receive a brand-new Fran-Am 1600 car to race the following season in one of Fran-Am's Regional Championships.

"This is a huge weekend for Fran-Am," said Fran-Am Sport's Director of Marketing, Andrew Field. "As well as crowning our inaugural champions, we will be awarding end-of-season prizes valued at over $600,000US. Although this may be the end of our first season, it is the beginning of the next step in the careers of so many drivers; our karting champion will move on to the Fran-Am 1600 championship series, the 1600 champion will move up to the 2-litre program and the Fran-Am 2000 champion will make the jump to the European Super Renault V6 series. This is what Fran-Am is all about."

The Fran-Am 2000 North American Pro Championship is a cousin of Formula Renault in Europe, South America and China. Each Fran-Am 2000 race features a $25,000 Michelin International supported cash prize fund, with the overall series champion winning a ride in the 2003 Super Renault V6 series in Europe. Formula Renault is recognized worldwide as a primary feeder for the Formula One stars of tomorrow. Recent graduates include McLaren's Kimi Raikkonen (who went straight to Formula One from Formula Renault) as well as Sauber's Felipe Massa.

The Fran-Am 2000 race car features a spec-Tatuus carbon-fiber monocoque chassis, sealed 2.0-liter/186-horsepower motor (capable of running an entire season without a rebuild), 6-speed sequential gearbox, and spec-Michelin Sport racing tires.

The Fran-Am 1600 Regional Championship series is the first step on Fran-Am Sport's Driver Development Ladder, with drivers eventually making the jump to race in the Fran-Am 2000 Series. Each Fran-Am 1600 event features a $7000US prize fund with the overall series champion winning a brand-new Fran-Am 2000 car ready to race the next season

The Fran-Am 1600 race car features a spec-Tatuus carbon-fiber monocoque chassis, sealed 1.6-liter/123-horsepower motor (capable of running an entire season without a rebuild), 5-speed sequential gearbox, and spec-Michelin Sport racing tires.

-www.fran-am.com

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